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tv   U.S. Senate Sens. Kaine Murray Thune on Iran War Powers Resolution  CSPAN  February 13, 2020 5:37am-6:01am EST

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that information? was it president trump? it sure wouldn't be surprising. and who in the military, the military, which is in a bulwark, one of the few particularly when general mattis was secretary, who in the military let that happen? just as importantly, what is the president's strategy for keeping our troops safe in the coming months? the administration has deliberately refused to be transparent with congress about the aftermath of the iranian strike. i fear that by keeping congress in the dark, president trump is once again hoping to short circuit our checks and balances and escape scrutiny. that's why senator kaine's war powers resolution is a matter of urgent necessity. i commend senator kaine on the job he has done and urge my colleagues of both parties to vote in favor of this resolution. i i rity leader and minority leader. the presiding officer: duly noted. the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: i rise to speak to
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the body about the war powers resolution, which is pending before the senate. before i address the resolution, i want to acknowledge the combat deaths of javier guterrez and sergeant rodriguez, they were both 28-year-olds killed last week in afghanistan. while the incident is still under investigation, it appears they were killed by a member of the afghan security forces or someone posing as a member of the afghan security forces. this is a security force that the u.s. has armed, equipped and trained for 19 years. sergeant gueterrez leaves behind a wife and children ages 2 through 7.
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his father was a marine. he had previously deployed to afghanistan. sergeant guterrez leaves behind a wife, he had previously deployed to afghanistan ten times. i thought it was a misprint when i read it. a 28-year-old who previously dploitd to -- was deployed to afghanistan eight times before -- 10 times before he was killed at 28. this resolution is about congress reclaiming its rightful role and decisions about war. the resolution is pretty simple. we should not be at war with iran unless congress votes to authorize such a war while the president does and must always have the ability to defend the united states from imminent attack, the executive power to initiate war stops there. an offense of war requires a congressional debate and vote.
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this should not be a controversial proposition. it's clearly stated in the constitution we pledge to support and defend, and the principle is established there for a most important reason. if we're to order our young men and women to risk their lives and health in war, it should be on the basis of careful deliberation by the people's elected legislature and not on the say so of any one person. congressional deliberation educates the american public about what are the stakes -- what are the stakes involved in any proposed war. congressional deliberation allows members of congress to ask tough questions about the need for war, about the path to victory, and about how a victory could be sustained. and if following that public deliberation there is a vote of congress for war, it represents a clear statement that a war is
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in the national interest and that the efforts of our troops are supported by a clear political consensus. we should not allow this important process to be short circuited. our framers believed that the congressional deliberation would be the best antidote to unnecessary escalation. i've spoken often about this topic on the floor during the seven years i've been in the senate, and i don't want to repeat arguments i've made dozens and dozens of times here. i do want to address three objections i made to this resolution. first, there's an objection that says the bipartisan resolution is an effort to restrain president trump's powers. this is not a resolution about the president. the resolution does not say anything about president trump or any president. it's a resolution about congress. i want a president that will
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fully inhabit the article due powers of commander in chief, but as a member of the article 1 branch, i want an article 1 branch that will fully inhabit the article 1 powers including the power to declare war. this is not an effort to restrain president trump or some other president. this is not an effort by a democrat to point a finger or restrain republicans. no. in the history of this country. even in recent history, i believe we've gotten it wrong with the initiation of war whether the president was a democrat or republican or whether the majority in congress was democrat or republican. the legislative branch article 1 has too much power to devolve to the president of the fundamental question of whether the nation should be at war. this is not directed toward president trump. it would apply equally to any president. it's fundamentally about congress owning up to and taking
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responsibility for the most significant decisions that we should ever have to make. a second argument against the bill i heard made on the floor in recent days is it would send a message of weakness to iran or to other adversaries. now, i have to admit, madam president, that i am more concerned about the message we send to our troops and to our families. that's what i'm most interested. i think, as the father of a marine and as a senator from a state that is full of veteran, d.o.d. contractor, military families, that this bill sends a very strong and powerful message to our public and to our troops and their families that before we get into a war there will be a careful deliberation about whether it's necessary. that is a message of comfort, that is a message that can give our own public and our troops
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confidence. but to the extent that we want to consider the message this might send to iran and adversaries, i do not think that america sends a message of weakness when we proudly hold ourselves up as a nation of laws. and we pledged to follow the law when it comes to the monumental question about whether or not we should be at war. in fact, i believe we are most effective in countering our adversaries and facing most of our adversaries or authoritarian states that do not honor rule of law. we are most effective of countering our adversaries when we send a clear message that in this country we will stand for democratic principles, suchs -- such as the rule of law and follow those principles when we are making momentous decisions such as whether or not we should be at war. a third object -- objection i heard is this, it sends a
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message that america is not likely to use military force, that it might embolden bad actors. i find this argument bewildering. i don't think anyone in the world questions whether america will use military force. we have been engaged in a war against nonstate terrorism now for 19 years. the pages in this body have known nothing but war. these two 28-year-olds who were just killed last year, during their whole life they knew virtually nothing other than war. is america willing to use military action? we've been in a war for 19 years. we're losing troops on the battlefield like sergeants rodriguez and guterrez to this very day. we have tens of thousands of troops around the world to fight a war against terrorism and the current president is increasing the total footprint of those in the middle east to prosecute
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this fight. in afghanistan alone where these two sergeants were killed, we are spending $45 billion a year, 19 years later, we are still spending $45 billion a year to prosecute this fight. no one can question whether the united states will protect itself or our allies, but the choice of when to fight wars and when to use other available tools is always a question of such importance that the most careful deliberation is warranted. madam president, as i conclude, i just want to say this. i went and visited the hampton veterans hospital last friday as part of a regular once a year to check in with the hampton v.a., which is one of the three v.a.'s in virginia to see what they are doing. and i know every member of the senate does the same thing, visiting v.a. hospitals, and there are states elsewhere, going to see our veterans at
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fort belvoir in virginia. any visit of that kind produces a million of emotions, pride of our service providers, pride in our veterans as they grapple with challenging illnesses and disabilities in their lives often long after they served. but one impression that is always vivid when you visit a veterans hospital is this, the enduring consequences of war. as i visited the hampton v.a. hospital, i visited two units. one is a women's unit. they are having to build out the capacity to deal with the growing number of women veterans and the issues they bring to the table. i applaud what i saw at the hampton's with women's -- women's clinic and i spent time at the mental health facility
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and those dealing with traumatic brain energy and ptsd. we made a promise to these veterans that we will be there with them even though we don't know the consequences of the decisions we make. a significant aspect of the iraq and afghan wars that really doesn't have an earlier precedent is the ten deployment phenomenon. in what earlier war that this country fought do we have 28-year-old sergeants who are serving their 11th deployment in a theater of war? those repeated deployments have a long consequence in the life of a person and in the life of those close to that veteran. when you go to a v.a. and you grapple with -- madam president knows this from her own service -- you go to the v.a. and you grapple with the consequences of war, it has to make an
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impression upon those of us in this body charged with the sole responsibility for declaring war, that if and when we do so, we owe it the most careful deliberation that we bring to any question that we would ever resolve in our lives. that's not too much to ask for us to deliver a carefully when what's at risk for those who serve who depend upon us making the best possible decision is consequences that will last their own lifetimes and affect the lives of so many others. that's what this resolution is about. i don't believe it should be controversial. it is certainly bipartisan. and i hope we will stand up for this important proposition, that the careful deliberation of the senate is the most necessary thing we can do and what we owe to our troops and their families. with that, madam president, i
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yield the floor. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, madam president. i come to the floor today to strongly urge all of my colleagues to join senator kaine, and i want to thank him for his extremely thoughtful and amazing approach to this. i think it's so important that we reassert congress' authority in decisions concerning our nation's security, and curbing this administration's ability to put our troops in harm's way without consulting the american people. madam president, following the early january attack on u.s. troops deployed in iraq triggered by president trump's decision to launch a drone strike that killed iran's qasem soleimani. i know many americans were frightened like i was to watch tensions then with iran escalate so rapidly in real time. i'm glad the president's backed down, decided not to further escalate those tensions in
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recent weeks as a voice for my home state of washington, including all of our service members and military families and communities. but we're not off the hook and we have every reason to believe that iran may retaliate again, which is why i remain deeply disturbed by president trump's rush to incite conflict in ways that could have significant, negative impacts on our strategic goals in the region and more importantly the long-term safety and security of americans at home and abroad. to date neither president trump nor his administration has provided any evidence to us here in congress to justify his actions. and despite reports from the administration shortly after the attack that there were no u.s. casualties, we are now learning more than 100 service members, 100 have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following that attack, serious injuries
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that president trump dismissed as simply headaches. madam president, the american people expect their representatives, us, to have a say in decisions that may put their lives or the lives of a loved one at risk. and as the daughter of a world war ii veteran and a purple heart recipient here in the senate, i make decisions about our national security with deep concern for our brave service members and their families. a personal understanding of the sacrifices that they make for all of us and our nation. and an unwavering commitment to ensuring that they have the support that they need while they serve and when they come home. that's exactly why our constitution mandates that the power to declare war rests with congress, not the commander in chief. because those decisions weren't meant to be made by one person alone. and that's why i'm glad that my friend from virginia, senator kaine, is offering this war
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powers resolution of which i'm very proud to be a cosponsor. passing this resolution is a first step towards protecting our service members and our interests in the region by removing our troops from hostilities in or against iran unless there is a declaration of war or congressional authorization for the use of force. and this isn't just an issue for democrats. i'm very proud that this resolution has bipartisan support because no matter what side of the aisle you're on, we should all agree that congress must play a role in our nation's foreign policy as well as matters related to the health and safety of our service members. i am grateful for all of those who are serving in the middle east and around the world, and that's why i refuse to stand by and accept that they could be put in jeopardy or that our nation's foreign policy and safety could be upended by an
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impulsive late-night tweet. so i will continue to demand the president provide his legal justification for the drone strike in iraq, commit to coming before congress in advance of any further escalating steps, and explain to us how he will move forward in the region with the goal of protecting americans, our allies, and our interests. in the meantime, considering the unique recklessness of this administration, it is urgently important for congress to pass this resolution to block president trump's ability to start a war with iran and ensure that congress is guaranteed the opportunity to hear whatever case the president may have before taking a vote to determine the path that we want our nation to go down. in 2002 i voted against the war in iraq because i felt the administration was asking us to send our men and women into harm's way without a clear plan
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or a goal. and last week the house passed legislation to repeal that 200 2002a.u.f. which is a step in the right direction toward bringing our troops home. the senate should stand up and assert our authority to represent our constituents on this critical issue, too. because as senators, they are the people to whom we are all accountable to. we have to be able to go home and look them in the eye and say we gave questions as grave as decisions concerning war and peace, the deliberation that they warrant, and that we have done everything we can to protect our nation and our service members. madam president, you simply can't do that if you allow this president or any president to continue condeducting -- conducting foreign policy, especially by tweet unchecked. so congress has an obligation to ensure debate. we have an obligation to press
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this administration for a strategy, and check its power if it doesn't present a compelling one which so far it hasn't. passing this war powers resolution will help us, us do exactly that, so i strongly urge our colleagues to support this resolution. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. thune: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. thune: madam president, today we're taking up a war powers resolution ostensibly aimed at restricting hostilities with iran. the impetus for this resolution was the strike the president authorized to take out iranian general qasem soleimani. madam president, iran has a long history of fomenting violence and conflict in the middle east and general soleimani was always right in the center of that. as head of the quds force of iran's revolution far guard corps, soleimani masterminded iran's terrorist activities for two decades. iran has been linked to one in six u.s. military deaths in iraq
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notably through the i.e.d.'s that have become so emblematic of the war on terror. this, madam president, was soleimani's work. he is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of american soldiers and countless innocent civilians. and the threat iran poses to the united states personnel is an ongoing threat. at the end of december an iran-backed militia fired more than 30 rockets at an iraqi military base killing an american contractor and wounding four u.s. troops. days later iran-backed protesters stormed the u.s. embassy in baghdad conducting a two-day siege while the embassy before withdrawing. but the strike on general soleimani wasn't just based on these recent attacks or on soleimani's long rein of terror in the middle east. the president authorized the strike on soleimani because there was credible intelligence that soleimani was planning imminent attacks against u.s. interests. that was the conclusion not of
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the president but of the u.s. intelligence community and nonpartisan experts like the c.i.a. director and the chairman of the joint chiefs. and it was in response to this conclusion from the intelligence community that the president ordered the strike. madam president, the war powers resolution coming before the senate was introduced out of concern that taking out iran's top terrorist leader would lead to es came laition -- escalation but that has not happened. the perspective provided by the nearly six weeks that have passed since soleimani's killing underscores the one-off nature of the strike. the president has not escalated this conflict or used soleimani's death as an excuse to send troops into action against iran. in fact, this strike was designed to check escalation in the region specifically increasing aggression and imminent attacks by iran. madam president, we live in a dangerous world. the united states must be able
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to respond to imminent threats to our security. i support a robust interpretation of congress' constitutional prerogatives when it comes to the declaration of war and the deployment of u.s. troops. but i also believe that the president has the authority and indeed the responsibility to protect the united states from imminent threats. the strike against qasem soleimani has reminded those hostile to the united states that we will not stand idly by while u.s. personnel are threatened. it has removed a top terrorist leader from the arena, a leader responsible for the deaths of hundreds of americans. and it has reduced although not -- certainly not eliminated the risk to our men and women in uniform deployed in the middle east. i believe the president's action was justified. and i think this resolution is an ill-advised and potentially problematic response to the president's action. madam president, with
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soleimani's evil influence removed from the middle east, iran has the chance to chart a new course, to rethink its participation in terrorism and its oppression of its own people. i hope, i hope, madam president, that iran will moderate its activities. but of course, we have to be prepared for the likelihood that it won't. we have to continue to ensure that our words and actions make iran and any other hostile nation think twice before attacking american citizens. and we have to continue to ensure that our military and intelligence community have the resources that they need to identify and to defeat any threat. madam president, i will continue to work to ensure that our military is the best prepared, best equipped fighting force in the world and that our intelligence professionals have the resources that they need to protect our country. madam president, order.

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